The weather at 1pm on Saturday 15th January 2011 was terrible! There was a constant rain with strong easterly winds gusting up to 40mph! My youngest daughter, Emily aged 10, had completed her 3km fun run earlier in the day and had improved significantly on last year’s time with a time of 20.48, over 2 mins faster than last years time in much worse conditions. So as I lined up at 1pm I was feeling very proud of her and not a little worried that my target of sub 45min was going to be very tough to achieve.
We were held on the line for several mins and, with the terrible weather I felt like an Emperor penguin dutifully guarding my egg! The shot was fired at 1.01pm exactly and off we went. This year there were 275 finishers, as against last years 372. In this sense the weather had been helpful in clearing the field for the more hardened runners.
Early in the race I was trying to keep my HR down while trying to achieve my 7.14 goal pace. I hadn’t warmed up properly so I was taking a few chances. Mile 1 went in 7.14 exactly with an average HR of 149. The second mile included the assent of the Little Orme. By this time I had spotted a friend who was running the race I had always been a pretty quick runner. I decided to try to follow him. This helped pull me up the hill at a good pace, mile 2 in 7.24. I was well on target with the hardest bit of the race behind me.
The beginning of mile 3 is the decent from the top of the Little Orme. This was an opportunity to drop my HR while putting in a nice quick mile. Mile 3 was completed in 7.15 but my HR had not dropped as I had hoped. This was partly due to my lack of high cadence downhill training and partly due to the cross wind that was now pushing us to the left. The wind was such that I and the other runners had to lean to the right to avoid running into the sea wall! As mile 4 continued the road turned right into the wind. I had run in these conditions before but not at 7.15 pace! Mile 4 was completed in 7.22. I was about 20 seconds off my pace. While I was trying to keep the pace up my HR had leveled out in the 165-170 range. This for me is 97% of my maximum HR! I tried to push one more time and I felt that there was nothing left. I needed to take a walk break to get my HR down. I decided to take a 30 sec walk break. This helped my HR drop from 168 to 159bpm. I knew the 45 mins target had gone by this time but I was going to give it everything I had. With the walk break, mile 5 was completed in 7.40 with an average HR of 165. It was now time to get the pace back up and hang on as long as I could! This section of the course includes a decent of about 30ft over 400m. There was only one runner ahead of me that I could chase so I tried my best to get to him. He had to have been 15 seconds ahead of me going into the last mile of the course but I was going to catch him….. Mile 6 was completed in 7.34 with and average HR of 168. I had no idea of the time in the last 320m. All I was doing was trying to catch the guy in front of me………As I crossed the line he was 1 second in front of me! I had completed the race in 45.54. The last .2 of a mile was at 7.13 pace and an average HR of 170bpm. Who said having a heart condition would slow me down J I finished in 93rd place this year as against 137th place last year. I had improved in both my time and in my position in the field. I hadn’t achieved what I had hoped for but I had pushed myself as hard as I could. Never before had I gone so hard that my legs still ached 3 days after the race, and anyway there’s always next year and “sub 45 and beyond!”